Animal Kingdom Guide: Essential Pre-Visit Information on Dining, Rides, Transportation

Our kick off guides to the Disney World theme parks serve as a easy reference to planning your day at the work from everything to the touring strategy to follow and the must see snacks! Our Animal Kingdom guide has everything you need to know about rides, dining, and transportation.

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Earth Day Celebration at Animal KingdomA cupcake topped with frosting and a candy flamingo

Animal Kingdom celebrates Earth Day every year with different themed treats, special entertainment, and more. Animal Kingdom opened on April 22nd 1998 making this year’s Earth Day the 25th anniversary! Since 1995, the Disney Conservation Fund has directed $120 million to support nonprofit organizations working to save wildlife and protect the planet.

This year’s Earth Day will include new ways to join the celebration including new treats, speciality merchandise, and unique character sightings in the park.

Disney Animal Kingdom Earth Day Treats

Creature Comforts (Available March 28 through April 30)

  • Bee Hive Mousse Dome: Honey mousse on top of a brownie base with sugar bees
  • and white chocolate honeycomb (New)

Dawa Bar

  • Rum and Pineapple Cocktail: Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, Blue Curaçao Liquor, sour mix, pineapple juice garnish with pineapple wedge showcasing the ocean. The drink takes its name “bahari” from the Swahili word for “ocean.”

Flame Tree Barbecue (Mobile order available)

  • Flamingo Cupcake: Strawberry cake, strawberry compote filling, guava buttercream, pink crispy pearls, sugar flamingo, and white chocolate wings (Available starting March 28)
  • Bubbling Pink Lagoon: Strawberry lemonade, Sprite, and kiwi flavoring (Also available with glow cube and available with vodka for guests 21 and over) (Available March 28 through April 30) (New)

Nomad Lounge (Available March 31 through April 30)

  • Gin and Bitters Cocktail: Cruxland Gin, bitters, and soda water garnished with a lemon wheel and honey simple syrup Inspired by the use of strategically placed beehives to protect the crops of African farmers from elephants (New)

Pizzafari (Available March 28 through April 30; mobile order available)

  • Elephant Cupcake: Graham cracker cake, pineapple filling with matcha buttercream, crispy pearls, and a stunning white chocolate elephant celebrating Earth Month (New)
  • Viva Gaia Tonic: Minute Maid Zero Sugar Lemonade, Sprite, and cotton candy flavor with mint leaves (Also available with glow cube and available with vodka for guests 21 and over)(New)

Restaurantosaurus (Available March 28 through April 30; mobile order available)

  • Elephant Cupcake: Graham cracker cake, pineapple filling with matcha buttercream, crispy pearls, and a stunning white chocolate elephant celebrating Earth Month

Tamu Tamu (Available March 28 through April 30)

  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail Sundae: Brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, and trail crunch mix topped with a white chocolate image of Kejana (New)

Terra Treats

  • Roasted Mushroom & Leek Pizza: Plant-based offering with IMPOSSIBLE Meatballs, roasted mushrooms, braised leeks, and a dash of truffle oil (New) (Plant-based)

Tusker House

  • Bee Mini-cupcake included with buffet
  • A variety of plant-based items including Cauliflower Bunny Chow, Black-eyed Pea Salad, IMPOSSIBLE Bobotie, Feisty Green Beans, Tandoori Tomatoes, Carrot and Chickpea Salad, Jollof Rice with Plant-based Sausage, Garlic-leek Hummus, and Harira Soup

Available at Isle of Java, Terra Treats, Thirsty River Bar, and Outdoor Ice Cream Carts (Available March 28)

  • Tiger Eye Gold: Refreshing, light golden ale brewed with a blend of malt and rice and finished with hops from the Pacific Northwest that impart a hint of citrus flavor and the aroma of mandarin orange blossoms

Available at Dawa Bar, Eight Spoon Café, Restaurantosaurus Lounge, Thirsty River Bar, TriloBites, and Warung Outpost (Available April 2 through 30)

  • Honey Bee Citrus Ale: Celebrating our pollinators, this ale is a light, slightly sweet, honey ale with a crisp clean finish

Disney Resort Hotels

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

The Mara (Available April 22 only; mobile order available)

  • Cactus Cake: Chocolate cake, peanut butter filling, strawberry jam, and buttercream (New)

Sanaa (Available April 1 through 30)

  • Chaat: Seasonal vegetables from The Land at EPCOT and potato croquette with chana masala, kale pakora, tamarind, coriander chutney, and coconut raita (New) (Plant-based)

Available at Various Table-service Restaurants and Disney Resort Hotel Lounges including California GrillJiko: The Cooking PlaceBoma: Flavors of Africa, Victoria Falls, Flying Fish, Belle Vue Lounge, and AbracadaBAR (Available April 1 through May 31)

  • Honeycomb Cocktail: A tribute to global conservation through bee pollination featuring Four Roses Bourbon, lemon juice, and honey garnished with a dehydrated blood orange and honeycomb (New)

Available at Various Pool Bars Across Disney Resort Hotels (Available April 1 through May 31)

  • Cucumber Gimlet: Inspired by bright, refreshing flavors of spring and garden vegetables like cucumber, lime juice, and simple syrup topped with soda water with a chili-lime rim and cucumber garnish (New)

Transportation to Animal KingdomAnimal Kingdom safari

Let’s talk transportation in our Animal Kingdom guide! The first step for planning your day is thinking about how you will get to and from Animal Kingdom. Your main two options for getting to Animal Kingdom is a Disney World Resort Bus or driving. If you’re staying off-site, you will only be able to drive or use ride share to get to Animal Kingdom.

  • Disney World Resort Bus– line up at your bus stop at your Disney World resort at least 90 minutes prior to the park’s official opening time.
  • Driving – you can drive yourself to the parks or use rideshare (read our guide to using Uber at Disney World) which some people prefer especially if they plan to park hop.

The buses will stay until every guest has exited the park so you are guaranteed a way back to your hotel via the bus no matter how late you leave which can come in handy if you have a dinner reservation that goes past park closing time.

>You can read all about transportation at Disney World in our guide.

Best Dining at Animal KingdomRainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom guide

Now it’s time to talk about food in our Animal Kingdom guide! What are the must hit restaurants inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom? We have a few great options to suggest whether you’re looking for fabulous themed dining, quick service, and snacks! Some of the most popular restaurant options include:

  • The Rainforest Cafe
    • This table service restaurant is located right outside of the park’s main entrance and is a popular choice because of tropical rainforest theme inside the restaurant complete with tropical fish, simulated storms, and animal animatronics. You can read our recent review from our trip to see why kids love this restaurant.
  • Tiffin’s Restaurant
    • At this table service restaurant guests can dine on African, Asian, Latin Cuisine inside three elegant dining rooms honoring the spirit of Africa, Asia, and exotic animals.
  • The Yak & Yeti™ Restaurant
    • This table service restaurant is a beautiful Nepalese-style restaurant at the base of Expedition Everest.
  • Satu’li Canteen
    • This quick service restaurant is located in the land of Pandora and is a popular choice because of it’s great food options.
  • The Harambe Market
    • This market is an open-air plaza featuring four unique walk-up windows with quick service options including Kitamu Grill, Famous Sausages, Chef Mwanga’s, and Wanjohi Refreshments.

>You can read about all the dining options at Animal Kingdom in our guide. 

Characters at Animal KingdomCharacter boats at Animal Kingdom guide

Even though there are currently no character meet and greets right now you can find characters along Discovery River where you will see boat cavalcades going past through that day that include:

  • Discover River character cruise features Pocahontas and Meeko or Rafiki and Timon.
  • Goof and Pals Set Sail features Goofy and characters from Dino Bash (usually Chip n Dale).
  • Mickey & Friends Flotilla features Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto.
  • Discover Island Drummers will pass by playing music.
  • Donald’s Dino Boat Bash features Donald, Daisy, and Launchpad McQuack.

Our favorite trick for seeing all these character cavalcades is to grab a snack and find a spot to rest alongside the river. If you sit there for awhile you will see the boats go by as they run frequently.

>Read our guide to Disney World right now to see why we love these new character interactions.

Touring Plan for Animal KingdomPandora at Animal Kingdom Guide

Let’s get to the fun part in our Animal Kingdom guide- the rides! You have two main options with Animal Kingdom: go to Pandora first or do Pandora later. I only recommend doing Pandora first if you are literally in the first group inside the park. And by this I mean, you have successfully arrived at security early and you have been let into the park before the official opening time- if this is the case, then yes skip your tush straight to Flight of Passage! This will work even better in your favor if you do Animal Kingdom on a day that it opens really early like 7AM or 8AM.

This is the order I recommend tackling the rides:

  • Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey
    • Only do these two rides first if you have arrived early enough like I described above. If you haven’t managed to be at the front of the pack, this literally could even just be a 20 minute difference, then don’t go here first.
  • Expedition Everest- Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris

By this point, maybe even sooner, the rides will have reached their normal length for the day and you can leisurely explore the park including the attractions that aren’t on the above list like:

  • It’s Tough to be a Bug!
  • TriceraTop Spin
    • This is by DINOSAUR, so if you want to ride this do this while you’re in that area in the morning.

Since we don’t travel with younger kids in our party, we skipped both of those but you can easily add them to your list with no problem. When we followed this touring plan on our last visit we managed to tackle all the main attractions before lunchtime with no problem because we arrived so early. It’s also a good move to arrive early especially when visiting during hot times of the year so you can avoid the afternoon heat which can feel a bit more intense at Animal Kingdom.

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About Lindsay Brookshier

Lindsay is a college English instructor and has years of writing experience through various nonprofits, charities, newspapers, and online magazines. As the content director of Mickey Visit, she oversees article content and leads our fantastic team of writers to meet guest vacation needs. You can still find her writing weekly content to help make your Disney Parks trip fantastic here on Mickey Visit and Disney Dose- you can also view her recently featured posts on Disney Parks travel on Visit Anaheim, Nerd Wallet and SFGate. Lindsay comes from a dedicated Disney family and enjoys taking her son to the Disney parks as often as possible.

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